Water Main Break & Temporary Water Shut-Off Information

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The City of Framingham has nearly 18,000 service connections and is responsible for approximately 300 miles of water mains every day. As is true with many community water systems of our size in New England, a significant portion of the City’s water mains are operating beyond their reliable service life. While water main breaks in aging systems are unavoidable, the Framingham Water Division works diligently to make repairs as quickly and efficiently as possible. We understand it is challenging for our customers when normal water service is disrupted. We appreciate your patience while we work diligently to respond and make the repairs needed to restore water service to all our customers. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Water Mains and Repairs

What is a water main?

Water mains are underground pipes that are responsible for carrying drinking water to homes and businesses. Drinking water is delivered to each home and business connected to the City’s water system by a series of interconnected water mains.

What causes water main breaks?

Pressure changes inside a water main is the most common reason for a water main to break. Changes in temperature, or thermal expansion and contraction, cause water pipes to expand and contract as the ground around them freezes and thaws, sometimes causing them to fail. Other factors contributing to water main breaks can include:

  • Pipe age and material
  • Pipe condition due to corrosion, weakened structural integrity, or normal wear and tear
  • Nearby construction activities 
  • Normal water system operations

Why did I not receive notice about an emergency water shut-off?

Water main breaks are unplanned and unpredictable. The City cannot provide advanced notification in an emergency, such as when a water main breaks. 

However, if a water shut-down is necessary to complete routine or planned water infrastructure improvements, residents and businesses will always be notified at least 24 hours in advance.

Why does the City have to shut-off the water to make repairs?

Often, the flow of water through a water main must be stopped to perform repairs. While making repairs, the City makes every effort to minimize the number of customers impacted by a shut-down. It will perform repairs as quickly as possible to restore service to the City’s affected customers.

How does the City make a water main repair?

Most often, the City will make a repair by removing and replacing the pipe section where a failure has occurred. The City will also replace any required piping fixtures needed to return the pipe to service safely. In some instances, a repair clamp can be used rather than cutting out a section, which shortens the repair duration. 

How long does it take for crews to make a water main repair?

The length of time required to repair a water main break varies significantly. The extent of the failure and the break's circumstance can sometimes cause further complications that can lead to service restoration delays.

There is a water main break in my area, and I still have water, what should I do? 

Whenever you are notified of a water main break in your area, customers are encouraged to minimize their water use. It is not uncommon to experience water discoloration or air bubbles/pockets in your home. These experiences generally are not cause for concern, but they may seem troubling. Minimizing your water use during a water main break will not only limit discolored water and air bubbles/pockets from entering your plumbing, but it will also ensure water is available to those who truly need it.

Why is my water discolored during or following a water main repair? 

Water discoloration experienced during a water main break often results from mineral deposits on the inside of a water main or water service, also known as tuberculation, becoming freed from the pipe wall and traveling with the drinking water into your home or business. Generally, these particles are naturally-occurring in drinking water and are a nuisance but not harmful. To minimize inconveniences to you such as laundry discoloration, stained or clogged plumbing fixtures, or worries about your residence and those that reside there, please reduce your water usage until the water main repair is complete.

I am experiencing a problem I believe is due to a water main break.  Who can I contact?

Please call the Water Division at 508-532-6050 for assistance. The Division is available 24-hours a day for emergency service.

If you are unable to reach a live person by calling the above number, please call the Police or Fire non-emergency telephone line at 508-872-1212 or 508-532-5930.

Instructions for Residents and Businesses Once Their Water Is Restored or if they are Experiencing Discolored Water

When a water main is placed back into service after repairs are made, residents/businesses will sometimes experience water discoloration or spitting water from their fixtures. 

Discolored water is not harmful and will clear by running your faucet on cold water only at the lowest easily accessible point in your home until the water runs clear.  

If you experience further issues, please call the Water Division at 508-532-6050 for assistance.